The truth is, if you’re going to be in Hiroshima a while, you will find your way to Molly Malone’s (just ‘Molly’s’ to regulars) on Chuo Dori sooner or later without my help. Hopefully, though, you’ll make that sooner, because if any place in town has a right to call itself “Hiroshima’s local,” this welcoming and comfortable pub is it.
Molly’s just celebrated fifteen years in business, which means it’s finally getting banged up enough to come into its own as a proper pub. For a newcomer to town, the main draw here will be the people. Manager Mark Gardiner is a consummate and old-school barman, and he takes great care in hiring cordial staff who are fluent in (at least) Japanese and English. In no time at all, you’ll be treated like an old friend.
Far more successfully than most places, Molly’s manages to bring together Japanese and non-Japanese customers in an atmosphere that lends itself to relaxed, comfortable interaction. Some come to watch the baseball, soccer (English and international), or rugby playing on screens around the pub. Some come for the food, either old favorites off the regular menu or the pub’s many seasonal and unique items. Some come because there’s no smoking (until 9 pm, at any rate), and others use the pub as a jumping-off point for a night out in the lively Nagarekawa drinking district that sprawls eastward to the Kyobashi River. But whatever brings you in, you’re likely to find yourself lingering longer than you’d planned.
In addition to the regular goings-on, Molly’s frequently makes room for live musicians, often excellent. When the Hiroshima Carp are on a roll, the pub is one of the best places in town to watch the game while you eat, and of course, no place in the city can match the Saint Patrick’s Day festivities here. It’s worth following the pub on Facebook for updates about events or specials.
Families are more than welcome, with a good kid’s menu and crayons and puzzle sheets to occupy little ones while they wait for their food to arrive. Coming in for the Sunday roast can be an excellent way to run into other local families, and it’s certainly a good place for a get-together. The main menu is extensive, a rambling list of hearty dishes, consistently done well. Favorites include the Jameson Chicken, the cheeseburger (with a credible claim to being the city’s best), the Bangers and Mash, Shepherd’s Pie, Fish and Chips, and of course the Irish Stew.
I always enjoy the all-day Irish Breakfast, and at the moment, the Mediterranean Platter is just about the only offering of its kind in town if you’re hankering for a taste of falafel and hummus. There are also desserts, including a wonderful brown-bread ice cream that my daughters insist on having every time we go. The drinks menu is equally impressive, with soft drinks, a respectable range of beers and ales, spirits and cocktails, and, naturally, creamy pints of Guinness. If you’re a whiskey drinker, a quick perusal of the shelves behind the bar will usually reveal a bottle too new (or too unusual) to have made it onto the menu.
So come for the food, or a chat, come for an important football match or Thanksgiving dinner, but come! As the quote painted prominently along one wall says, “There are no strangers here, only friends who haven’t met.”
Molly Malone’s Irish Pub
All photos courtesy of the author